Over 150 000 Covid tests conducted in Namibia

By Michael Uugwanga

THE Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula has said that a cumulative number of 155 543 Covid-19 tests had been conducted as at end of November, translating into 62 tests per 1 000 persons.

Shangula said this on Monday on the occasion of briefing the nation on the Covid-19 national response under the new approach post the state emergency.

The world has recorded over 62 million cases of Covid-19 of which Africa has contributed 3.3 percent, and Namibia with 14 345 cases.

“Namibia is doing remarkably well in terms of testing coverage. In the   Southern African Development Community region, the testing coverage for South Africa stands at 89 per 1 000 population, while Zambia and Zimbabwe have recorded 20 and 11 tests per population, respectively. At continental level, Morocco remains the country to have conducted the highest number of tests in Africa, with 103 tests per 1 000 population.

“Our current testing strategy includes, expanded targeted testing of at risk populations, selected geographic locations where cluster of infections have been confirmed or are suspected, confirmed and suspected contacts of confirmed cases, arriving travellers whose test results are older than 72 hours, healthcare workers, and other at risk demographics.Covid-19 laboratory testing capacity in Namibia has increased significantly. As a result, the turnaround time is reduced from an average of 5-10 days to 24-72 hours for results to become available”.

The minister also applauded government for its commitment towards the fight against the disease, saying his ministry had increased Covid Intensive Care Units and high care bed capacity to 96 additional beds compared to only four beds, which were available for Covid-19 cases at the beginning of the pandemic.

The new ICU beds are at Windhoek Central Hospital with six ICU beds and nine high care beds, Katutura Intermediate Hospital with 11 beds, Oshakati Intermediate Hospital 12, Onandjokwe Hospital has 19 (currently under construction), Walvis Bay State Hospital with four ICU beds, Keetmanshoop Hospital with 12 that are still under construction, and Swakopmund hospital with three ICU beds.

“For the period under review isolation facilities were constructed at  Windhoek Central and Walvis Bay hospitals with 24 beds each, Opuwo, Oshakati and Rundu four beds each, Okongo and Gobabis each with eight beds, Keetmanshoop, Nkurenkuru and Mariental each with 12 beds, Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer each with four beds and Oshikango border post with two beds,” said Shangula.

Despite Government having Covid-19 pandemic under control, Shangula said there is a great concern of infections among healthcare workers.

“The number of Covid-19 confirmed cases amongst healthcare workers has been and continues to be a matter of great concern to our ministry and to government. I am pleased to report that infections among healthcare workers have reduced by 62 percent from 97 cases reported between 15 September  2020 and 21 October 2020 to 37. Healthcare staff and other frontline workers remain the country’s key asset in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue to do everything necessary to ensure that they are protected and equipped to do their work effectively.”